It all starts with a big idea. The Cinderella of business fairytales. The happy ending is the goal, but the series of unfortunate events and problem solving in the middle of the narrative is often forgotten.
With any small business, just like with a child, growing pains can be the result of rapid growth spurts, but they can also simply be aches due to intense activities that can wear your “child’s" muscles out.
Growing pains are the symptoms that your small business needs to make a transition. Whether its employees, software, management or organisational structure, these pains are a sign that something needs to shift.
The three most critical resources to grow your business are time, money and energy. Growing pains have the ability to drain all three stores and halt and kind of business growth and development.
Some of the most common growing pains small business’ experience are:
Burnout: “there aren’t enough hours in the day”
Adhoc planning: throwing bandaids over problems, usually caused by a lack of long term planning
Poor cash flow: when the money runs out before the month
Overly optimistic: setting unrealistic expectations and goals
Undefined roles: people are not aware of what other people are doing, causing confusion, a breakdown in communication and a lack of responsibility
Poor system development and management: pure chaos
But growing pains are a sign that good things are happening. So how do you tackle them?
1. Don’t be afraid to make changes. You’ve taken the biggest risk already, so embrace the transition.
2. Being caught up "in the business" is extremely different to working "on the business.” The managers of growing companies need to recognise the growing pains and take action to alleviate them so that their business can continue to operate successfully.
3. Find and hire the right people. This begins with management and leadership roles, employing people that set the tone for your business and company philosophy, and subsequently you can trust to hire the right people.
4. Create and write down roles, responsibilities and goals. This will give your staff clarity, expectations, and a sense of purpose.
5. Take profit and expense margins seriously. You can’t afford(literally) to overspend on staff costs, materials and business infrastructure, but at the same time, under-spending can also negatively impact productivity and growth. It’s a fine line to walk, so don’t be afraid to seek help if you need it.
The thing about growing pains - they’re not permanent. So endure the pain and you’ll end up with a stronger, wiser, more successful business.